Pre-MBA Work to Secure Post-MBA Job?

Rank: Monkey | 43

I'm attempting to change careers from engineering to finance, and made a thread earlier to that effect. Since then I've gained a lot of experience, have talked to quite a few people in the field, and have expanded my network out to 10-15 people, which continues to grow.

Originally I was interested in IBD, but I quickly realized that due to the incredibly structured nature of IBD recruiting that I probably wouldn't be able to get into it for some time, and that I'm probably more interested in some kind of buy-side role doing investment management anyways.

At this point I'm focusing on taking the CFA Level I in June. But I'm also trying to find a job in finance that I can work for a few years before going for an MBA at a good school, and what I'm wondering is what kinds of jobs I could get right now that would set me up to be in an investment management role. Particularly I'm interested in HFA positions in the long term.

I know I could probably get a job as a trader, and am also looking into PWM as the easiest ways to enter the field from engineering. Would a back office role be beneficial to moving into where I want to go post-MBA or would it pigeonhole me? Should I be focusing on front-office positions? What kind of positions could I possibly have a chance of getting a job in right now aside from trading/PWM? Could I qualify for Financial Analyst positions either right now or upon completion of CFA I?